First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 101

authorities in Taos.” Access is highly restricted. They are never exhibited, photographed, or loaned. This kind of collaborative agreement is more common than one may conclude from divisive headlines that posit repatriation as a simple two-sided issue. Similarly, Philbrook has an active partnership with the Delaware Tribe of Indians based in Bartlesville, almost an hour north of Tulsa. In the late 1980s, Curtis Zunigha (Delaware), currently director of cultural resources for the Delaware Tribe, learned Philbrook had items from the Big House Church. 6 Centuries of forced relocation, forced conversion, and systematic assimilation have nearly erased this Indigenous religion. The last Big House ceremony was held in 1924. In the 1940s, prayer sticks, rattles, sculpted doorposts, and other objects came to the Philbrook “under cover of darkness,” as Zunigha describes the regular practices of amateur archaeologists before the establishment of ethical guidelines (which are still being written). Zunigha worked with Wyckoff to curate an exhibition with these artifacts and sacred objects to teach the Delaware and the larger public about Lenape culture. He stresses that the majority of his tribal community are Christian and believe the Big House religion should remain in the past. As a critical component of their unique heritage, he and others work for the new generation to learn as much as possible. In June 2018 he organized a culture camp for youth. A highlight of the week was visiting the Philbrook vault, where the teens were able to see these sacred objects up close, offered tobacco, and prayed to their ancestors. Though Zunigha felt motivated to educate a wider public when he curated the exhibition in 1993, he has come to believe that some of the objects should be visited only by tribal members. He has never advocated for the physical repatriation of this collection because, at the present time, the tribe does not have the proper facility. When funds become available to realize a temperature- and humidity-controlled vault for archival storage, the Delaware Tribe will repatriate. Until then he hopes to continue the youth camp annually to nourish cultural hunger. In 2013 Philbrook expanded with an additional 30,000-square-foot satellite facility downtown. In these sleek, contemporary galleries, Burke curated the permanent collec- tion thematically rather than chronologically or by region. The concepts of Preservation, Adaptation, Innovation, and Integration allow visitors to consider relationships among works, which may not have been juxtaposed under conven- tional schematics. Oklahoma is home to the third most tribes of any US state (behind Alaska and California) and is second only to California in Native population, though racism and cultural stereotyping directed toward Indigenous people remains extremely problematic. In this context, Philbrook’s work remains critical to educate the broader public about Indigenous cultures as well as serve as a trusted repository for sacred items temporarily entrusted to its care. 6. All information from Curtis Zunigha in discussion with the author, December 2018. Coe Center Experience our unique collections Calvin Hunt, (Kwakwaka’wakw), 2007 Open every First Friday of the month, 1-4 pm or give us a call to plan a visit 1590B Pacheco Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505 SPRING 2019 | coeartscenter.org / (505) 983-6372 99